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BrendaPeter
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Posted: June 14 2005 at 3:03pm | IP Logged Quote BrendaPeter

Does anyone have any suggestions for fun activities or living books on the Civil War?

Thx!



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ALmom
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Posted: June 14 2005 at 3:53pm | IP Logged Quote ALmom

Brenda,

It is funny that you ask as we plan to focus on American History next year, including the Civil War and will be interested in what others have to say.

Here are a few books we found interesting:

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Rifles for Waite by Harold Keith
Poem by Fr Abram Ryan (confederate chaplain and poet)
The Long Road to Gettysburg by Jim Murphy (this one really got my 11 yo son hooked on history and it includes first hand accounts from both a confederate and a union soldier).

If you can get your hands on it, we found the Chaplain in Gray by Hackney (an American Background book which is out of print) an interesting life of Fr Ryan. It deals more with states rights issues.

There are always books like Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington and Amos Fortune Free Man which address the reality of slavery.

We did read The Red Badge of Courage with our high schooler but to be honest, she did not like it at all. It had a lot of rough language and taking the name of the Lord in vain. She had to evaluate the main character and character development and came away with an opinion very different than your typical assessment. She happened to believe, and defend rather well, that the evidence was weak that he had actually changed that much. It did provoke a lot of great discussions, but I would not let a much younger child read it.

I would like to find some good books dealing with the religious sisters who nursed soldiers from both sides. Evidently, from what I have seen, they did a lot to break down prejudices against Catholics in the U.S.

Check into sources in your area. We live near a lot of sites of battles in the south, so we could attend a lot of civil war re-enactments. The first Catholic church in this area was actually used as a hospital during the civil war. (It had not been completed or consecrated yet and construction was completed after the war) It is an historic site in our state. We could probably find information through the diocese in their history project. We are trying to make sure we cover both sides as history of the civil war as told by northerners looks a lot different than the history told by southerners.

There are still controversies in our state over municipalities that fly the confederate battle flag. We could walk through our court house and look at photos of confederate war dead. At one time our city was the temporary capital of the confederacy and we don't live that far from Atlanta and Chattanooga. My grandmother grew up in Vicksburg and the burning of Vicksburg and re-construction was not a distant memory to her mother. We made sure to stop at Gettysburg and listened in on a tour guide discuss weapons and the battle when we traveled through Pennsylvania a few years ago.

I am looking forward to seeing others suggestions as I want new material to add to our studies.

Thanks for posting the question.

Janet
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mom3aut1not
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Posted: June 14 2005 at 3:54pm | IP Logged Quote mom3aut1not

Brenda,

Two books I can say my kids liked (for different reasons) are

Pink and Say (This may be a picture book, but it's too sad for little kids.)
Never Were Men So Brave (about Irish immigrants in the Civil War)

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Deborah
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Posted: June 14 2005 at 4:21pm | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

When my b-i-l took the boys to Gettysburg, they downloaded the audiobook Hallowed Ground from Audible and listened on the way. It was a great way to be familiar with the Civil War.

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Posted: June 14 2005 at 5:37pm | IP Logged Quote Meredith

The Addy books by American girl are set during this time period and are a fun read.

Check out the Sonlight reading list for Core 4 as well for more suggestions.
HTH.

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Kelly
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Posted: June 14 2005 at 9:53pm | IP Logged Quote Kelly

I don't know if it's still available, but Pat Wesolowski used to publish a Civil War Unit Study. Although it was about $20, I seem to recall looking at it and liking it. Not Catholic, but Christian in nature. The publisher was D.P. & K. Productions, phone # WAS 850/385-1958. It might be worth surfin' the net for it.

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Posted: June 15 2005 at 2:03am | IP Logged Quote MaryM

Civil War: Literature Units, Projects, and Activities is a unit study we have used several times.
"This unit uses literature to teach the story of the Civil War. Six core books -- two works of historical fiction (Across five Aprils / by Irene Hunt ; Bull Run / by Paul Fleischman), two informational books (The boy's war / by Jim Murphy ; Undying glory / by Clinton Cox), and two biographies (Lincoln : a photobiography / by Russell Freedman ; Behind rebel lines / by Seymour Reit) -- are used to build the unit."

Here is an interesting link from a collection of civil war literature for children from the 1800's through modern times. Blue and Gray for Boys and Girls


This was a favorite topic for years in our house. Some of the activities we have done:
-Civil War era cooking (hard tack, jerky), here's a recipe link
-reading civil war letters, writing own letters (and "aging" them to look authentic)
-sampling civil war poetry and music
-civil war board games
-look for local reaenactment companies that help groups of students put on reenactments.

Look for interesting local links to Civil War even if you live in areas where there was no Civil War action. In the late 90's we found out that one of the oldest living Civil War widows (she was in her 20's in the 1920's when she married the almost 80 year old Civil War veteran) lived in a nursing home here in Denver - we were able to visit with her and get to know her a little bit before she died in 1998. It was really intriguing for my then 10 year old who was quite a Civil War buff.

Additional Civil War activity books
The Civil War for Kids
Civil War Days

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Posted: June 15 2005 at 2:40am | IP Logged Quote MaryM

ALmom wrote:
I would like to find some good books dealing with the religious sisters who nursed soldiers from both sides. Evidently, from what I have seen, they did a lot to break down prejudices against Catholics in the U.S.

There was brief mention of this in the book, The Habit, which I recently read. Your post further piqued my curiouity on this topic and I found this book which sounds very interesting. To Bind up the Wounds

...and there is apparently a monument to these sisters in Washington DC

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Kelly
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Posted: June 15 2005 at 10:55am | IP Logged Quote Kelly

Mary M,
    That is so interesting about your connecting with the Civil War widow. Gives me goosebumps. Certainly makes you realize that the war wasn't THAT long ago!
     

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Posted: June 15 2005 at 2:41pm | IP Logged Quote teachingmom

This is very timely for me too. My oldest has asked that we cover the Civil War next year, so that will be our second semester of history (after some ancient history for the first semester).

As for suggestions for fun activities for studying the Civil War:
Come to Virginia!

Dh is a big Civil War buff. We just had his brother's family here visiting us and his other local brother this past weekend. Joe led a tour of Manassas Battlefield that has become a tradition for relatives visiting from out of state. Before the dads and kids left for the battlefield, he gave a mini-lesson to my girls and their 8 cousins complete with dramatic readings, excerpts from a battlefield tour CD, and a showing of his reproduction of a Confederate sword. (That was a very cool 40th birthday gift from one of his brothers!) At the battlefield Visitor's Center a new movie was playing. It was sort of a docudrama, from what I understand, and they said it was very interesting. (Warning: Dh said that it showed an amputation that looked very gruesome, so he found himself telling all the kids to cover their eyes in the middle of the film.)

Later my 5yo came up from the basement and told me the cousins were playing "Civil War". The boys were acting out the battle, and the girls were pretending to be the ladies who came out from Washington, DC for the day to watch the battle. That obviously made an impression on her!

A few weeks ago, dh and I celebrated our 12 anniversary by going away overnight without the children. We went to Lexington, VA to a wonderful B&B. That area of Virginia is gorgeous! Lexington is the home of Washington and Lee University where Robert E. Lee served as President after the war, and the home of Virginia Military Institute where Stonewall Jackson taught. We took a tour of Stonewall Jackson's home and saw his grave in the town cemetery. We saw Robert E. Lee's grave in the Lee Chapel at the university. They also had a great little museum honoring him there.

After our return home, I teased dh that the last time we got away for a few days without the children (years ago now), we went to Richmond and (among other sites) toured the home of Jefferson Davis and the Museum of the Confederacy. Do you sense a theme here?

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BrendaPeter
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Posted: June 16 2005 at 11:25am | IP Logged Quote BrendaPeter

Thank you so much for all the great books & ideas!

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Posted: June 16 2005 at 10:06pm | IP Logged Quote guitarnan

Brenda,

If you have not considered Ken Burns' video (DVD?) series, The Civil War, give it a look. This was Burns' breakthrough series, of course...he revolutionized historical documentaries for TV with it. We just did the Civil War and my visual learning ds (13) loved it all. Every single minute. I think he could describe the details of every major battle of this conflict to you...and he last visited a Civil War site when he was 7 years old. We did read a lot of books, but for him the Burns series made it come alive. I would imagine you could get this series at your public library. I haven't checked ours, because we happened to fall heir to the videos, but our library has most other Burns stuff on DVD, so I would guess you could find The Civil War at your library. The soundtrack is lovely, too.

Please don't forget to look at maps, because the major battles ranged from Pennsylvania to Louisiana. This could be a great geography reinforcement.

If you have ever lived in or visited a state that was part of the actual fighting, be sure to check the state history resources online...it really brings the idea of what a Civil War is home when you read how conflicted communities were. Our WV county didn't see much action, but spawned a bunch of paramiltary groups that tried to beat each other up as the war progressed.

I grew up in California, so it all seemed so distant when I studied the Civil War in school. I didn't realize then that it's very real to many people in the South, even today...

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BrendaPeter
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Posted: June 19 2005 at 3:14pm | IP Logged Quote BrendaPeter

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for the Ken Burns' suggestion. I've been thinking of getting the baseball series from the library for our boys. I'll just add the Civil War one to our list!



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